History of Garabagh musical culture


In the XIX century as in other regions of Azerbaijan, the development of the arts in Garabagh region, having always high cultural level, stepped on the special stage.

Historically, the music an atmosphere of Karabakh, which gave a lot of singers, music performers, composers, conductors, theater workers, poets and writers to the culture of  Azerbaijan, was rich.

The minstrel (ashiq) art was also developed in XIX century in Azerbaijan, too. Ashiq Muhammad (1834-1914), Ashiq Aziz (1825-1918), Ashiq Hussain (1800-1880), Ashiq Ali (1907-1917), Ashiq Alesker (1821-1926), Molla Juma (1855-1919) and other’s high art had a positive impact on the development of art of ashug in Karabakh.

In Karabakh’s celebrations and religious ceremonies music was also widely used.

A large mass of people gathered to celebrate Novruz a month prior to the holiday. In Shusha it was arranged more luxurious. Here people preferred to leave the sadness of old year and to meet the New Year with singing and dancing. As this celebrity was a folk holiday all people, including children and elders used to gather in this festivity and celebrated the holiday. All the intellectuals, the rich and the poor people, famous and non-famous musicians of Shusha, all would take part in this festival.

Religious ceremonies carried out in Karabakh during Muharram month. Usually a few days prior to the month of Muharram, mosques and places where Muharram related ceremonies would take place were cleaned. All entered the mosque to listen to singers of religious rites. They were not professional singers. They just were people reading poems about Imams and trying to expose their voices as singers. But old khanande sung just to clear their sins. Religious rites sung by poets based on sad tones, Gajar Bayati, Qatar, and a piece of heavy tasnif. In Shusha the famous rite singers were Sarbaf Ibrahim and Sarbaf Habib.

In the second half of the XIX century, especially can be called the period of blooming and development of a culture of Karabakh. Thanks to efforts of the leading intellectuals in Azerbaijan the Azerbaijani language was developed widely as scientific and literary language. In Karabakh, Shusha, since 1882 theater performances had staged in a wide range. The interrvalks of those performances the famous singers and performers of Karabakh demonstrated their skills to the audience. Gradual adaptation of famous khanande and trios (tar, kamancha and singer) to a new development stage provided the new development stage of the culture.

The efforts of arrangers of music assemblies, the famous musician-poet intellectuals, of that period, philanthropists in development, creation of new forms of mugham. Musical assembles arranged by  Khan kizi Natavan in XIX  century in Karabakh, Mir Movsun Navvab, the famous singer Haji Husu, Kharrat Gulu, in Shirvan Mahmud Aga, in Baku the Mansurov, the Bakikhanov, the famous tar player Mirza Faraj Rzayev in own homes had provided high  development of the art of music of Azerbaijan. Famous tar players Mirza Mansur Mansurov, Ahmad, Mehammadrza Bakikhanov brothers and many other took part in these meetings.

In the XIX century musical culture of Karabakh had a close relationship not just with neighboring peoples of the Caucasus but Iran. Many sources indicates on facts that Iranian khanende were accompanied by tar performers from Azerbaijan proves that the artists of both countries created the mugham performance having the same root and traditions.

Art of the XIX century the services of two outstanding figures Khurshud Nevvab Banu Natavan and Mir Mohsun Navvab were great in development of Karabakh poetry and music, especially poetry and music. Natavan (1832-1897) was representative of the generation of Javanshir, and had a great authority among the local community as the poet, painter, and person having great services in development of local art. She could gather the progressive intellectuals, poets at the “Majlisi uns’, the gathering of poetry and literature. Participants of “Majlisi-uns” besides having exchange of views on ways of development of poetry and art, as well as its daily cares, mad a lot of to spread  literary heritage among the mass of working people. The Majlis were attended by Karabakh poets like Gasim bey Zakir, Asi, Baki, Vafa, Fana, Shahin, Katib, Makhfi, Salar, Shahid, Ashiq, Hadi, Asaf Lanbarani and others.

In arrangement of poetry and music and its progress the role of well-known poet, painter, mosaic, musician and calligrapher Mir Navvab should be emphasized, too. Knowing perfectly   Persian, Arabic, Turkish M.M.Navvab also mastered philosophy, wisdom, logic, science. As he knew the music both practically and scientifically he carried out scientific observations and studies in this field.

Aesthetic problems in the music, singing, the art of music was discussed in “Assembly of Musicians” created by M.M.Nasvvab together with the famous singer Haji Husi. Majlis included well-known singers and players Mashadi Jamil Amirov, I.Abdulayev, S. Shushinski, Sadikjan and others.

One of the great representatives of vocalism of Shusha was Hadji Husu, stundent of Kharrat Gulu. He was a musician and scholar who mastered mughams, mughams improved a number of new mughams and created new ones.

Mirza Sadiq Assad oglu (Sadıqjan) was of the great master of tar in XIX century, reconstructed tar and created modern type of tar.

The analysis of the musical culture of Karabakh in the XIX century shows that it is a special stage in the development of the Azerbaijani culture as a whole, in particular musical art. Shusha is homeland of Khurshid Banu Natavan, Mir Nevvab, from performers Kharrat Gulu, Haji Husu, Sadıqjan, Mashadi Isi, Abdulbaghı Zulalov, Jabbar Qaryagdıoglu, Kechachi oglu Mammad, Mashadi Mammad Farzaliyev, Islam Abdulayev, Seid Shushinski, Bulbul, Zulfi Adygozelov, Khan Shushinski, Rashid Behbudov, Mashadi Jamil Amirov, Qurban Pirimov, from composers Uzeyir Hajibeyov, Zulfugar Hajibeyov, Fikret Amirov, Niyazi, Afrasiyab Badalbeyli, Soltan Hajibeyov, Ashraf Abbasov, Suleyman Alasgarov. This is not a complete list of the musicians of Shusha.

At the beginning of the XX century, at the conditions of socio-economic and cultural growth U. Hajibeyov laid the foundations of the modern professional music culture of Azerbaijan and created a synthesis of composer creations and folklore. This caused the active interrelations of Eastern and Western cultures. In 1908, U. Hajibeyov laid the foundation for the art of opera not only in Azerbaijan but the East with “Leili and Majnun” opera in the theater of H.Z.Tagiyev, became founder of music-opera genre. Realizing that it would be difficult for the Azerbaijani audience to understand the new genre U. Hajibeyov referred to Fuzuli’s “Leili and Majnun” poem and folk music genres (music, song, dance) and created performance meeting the spirit of that period, moral needs of people. U. Hajibeyov is also the founder of the musical comedy genre in Azerbaijan. In social housing-related musical comedies (“Husband and Wife” (1910), “If not then this” (1911), “Arshin mal alan” (1913)) based on the composer folk songs and dance music. His “Arshin mal alan” musical comedy (staged in 1913) is particularly famous. The work was translated in English, German, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Polish, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Georgian, etc. (Nearly 70 languages), and staged in Moscow, Istanbul, New York, Paris, London, Tehran, Cairo, Beijing, Berlin, Warsaw, Sofia, Budapest, Bucharest and others places, at stages of 120 theaters, many times screened (in the years 1916- 1917 in Baku, in 30-es n the United States, in 1945 and 1960 in Soviet Azerbaijan).

School of mugham


Garabagh is a fatherland of Azerbaijani poetry and music; it is a part of the Azerbaijan Republic. It is a land of miraculous and picturesque nature, as well as the richest spiritual and cultural traditions. Garabagh is the native land of a great many outstanding Azerbaijani scientists, poets, writers, artists, and musicians.

Shusha city is a historical and cultural centre of Garabagh. It takes specific place in Azerbaijani musical culture.

Shusha city invariably attracted attention of progressive public due to its economic development, geographical location and fascinating nature in XIX century. At the start of the 19th century Shusha had already become a center of musical Azerbaijan. The forming of Garabagh Mugham School started exactly that period.

Garabagh mugham School as a school of traditional music culture was developed around individual masters, handing down traditions of their professional creative work.

Their lives and creation were closely connected with this city.  It is typical that they called Shusha as “Conservatoire of Caucasus”.  All hanende (singers) learning essence of mugham skill, and perceiving its secrets in Shusha, as well as players on folk instruments, performed their creative activity at every corner of Azerbaijan and even along the Caucasus.

Yet at late of XVIII and early of XIX centuries many artists lived and created in Shusha. Aming them Shahsanam oglu Yusif, Mirza Huseyn, Hasanja, Qarachı Asad and others laid foundation of Shusha khanande art. At that period tar performer Ali Asgar, kamancha player Qarachi Hajibey, double drum performer Qapanchi oglu Kerim were famous.

At 2nd half of XIX century and early of XX century Garabagh mugham school had passed on the way of high development stage. During this period many famous khanande and performers like Haji Husu, Mir Mohsun Navvab, Mirza Sadıq Asad oglu (Sadıqjan), Masahdi Mammad Farzaliyev, Abdulbaqi Zulalov (Bulbuljan), Kechachi oglu Mahammad, Jabbar Qaryagdı oglu, Islam Abdullayev, Seyid Shushinski, Mashadi Jamil Amirov, Qurban Pirimov, Majid Behbudov, Bulbul, Zulfu Adıgozelov, Khan Shushinski and others represented Garabagh mugham school

Mugham performance requires knowing all tone, rules of melodic development, ability to sing melody, melodic performances, which make a base of each section etc. Naturally to know all of these, one is required to pass through school.

It is memorable that the first music schools where they taught mughams appeared in Shusha in the middle of the 19th century. Famous in Shusha connoisseur of mugham Harrat Gulu was the first who opened such school. He chose talented children with good voices from the region and taught them basis of eastern poetry and music as well to sing mughams and tesniffs. However Harrat Gulu School basically served religion, because he prepared children to participate in devotions. Despite all this the school played significant role in upbringing of many singers. Such singers as Haji Husi, Abdulbagi Zulalov, Jabbar Garyagdi, tar-player Mirza Sadig Asad oglu were alumni of this school. After Harrat Gulu’s death, Ker (Blind) Khalifa and Molla Ibrahim continued his work in Shusha mugham school.

Mugham singers, who mastered all rules to sing mughams and best tradition of their predecessor, carefully protected these traditions, developed and enriched them, and then transmitted to the future generation. Thus they created their own style of singing, own traditions, own performing schools, and had own adherents.

That time mughams were performed mainly at weddings and banquets. However, starting from the second half of the 19th century new tradition had appeared. It was a tradition to arrange poetic and musical mejlises, i. e. music assemblies or meetings of poets and musicians. Wonderful Azerbaijani poetess Khurshud Banu Natavan arranged such assemblies, called “Mejlisi-uns”. An outstanding scientist, artist, and musicologist Mir Mohsun Navvab arranged such assemblies, called “Mejlisi Faramushan”.

Mejlises cardinally differed from wedding parties. They carried on interesting talks on literature and painting, and discussed aesthetic problems of poetry, music and mugham mastery.

Mugham-destgakh were improving and enriching with new sections. New tesniffs and rengs were creating. Performance of such mughams as “Rast”, “Shur”, “Mahur”, “Seygakh”, “Chahargakh”, “Bayati-Shiraz” and “Bayati-Isfahan” often continued up to 2 or 3 hours.

Music instruments started improving in the middle of the 19th century as well. That time Iranian tar was a main instrument accompanying for singers (it was kept on the lap). Tar-player Mirza Sadig Asad reconstructed this tar and factually created new instrument: Azerbaijani tar. It was eleven stringed and seventeen-stepped instruments. They played this tar clasping it to one’s bosom. As a result this tar obtained new sounding and new performance techniques appeared. Azerbaijani tar took the leading place in mugham performance as both: soloing and accompanying instrument.

Garabagh performance school had original features. Knowledge of all mughams’ rules and perfect possession of singing technique were mandatory. Singers were required to have clear mellifluous voice of great compass, and skills to sing fluently in upper and low registers. We should note that Jabbar Garyagdi has the greatest compass – two and a half octaves – among singer of a period under review. He had lyrical-dramatic tenor. It is interesting that Bulbul preferred him, comparing his voice with one of Caruso’s.

Repertoire of Garabagh singers was broad. They performed all classic mugham-destgakhs: Rast”, “Shur”, “Mahur”, “Seygakh”, “Khumayun”, “Bayati-Shiraz”, “Chahargakh”; zerbi-mughams: “Eyrati”, “Garabagh Shikestesi”, “Osmani”, “Mansuriye”, and others.

Speaking on creative works of Garabagh singers, one wants to note one feature more. It is composition of own tesniffs and songs, sometimes for own texts. Thus, Jabbar Garyagdi and Khan Shushinsky created songs beloved among the public. For instance we could mention songs “Iravanda xal galmadi” (author – Jabbar Garyagdi) and “Shushanin daglari” (author – Khan Shushinsky). There were also many singers who possessed composer talent.

Activity area of singers broadened at late 19th century. This period mugham started to sound in the theaters and concert halls. Singers, performing mughams and tesniffs, accompanied by instrumental ensembles, started to perform in intervals between theater performances firstly in Tiflis, and then in Shusha. It was of a great success.

First music performances appeared within this period. In 1897, Abdurrahim Akhverdiyev, famous writer (that time student of St. Petersburg University) guided performance of musical scene called “Mejnun at Leyli’s Tomb”. It was performance in costumes for the text of the final part of “Leyli and Mejnun” poem (great Azerbaijani poet Fizuli).

Here for the first time theatre, poetry and mugham was combined. Participants of the performance khanende performed some part of poem accompanied with mugham.

This music performance was met with delight. It was a notable event in music life of not only Azerbaijan, but also for the whole Trans Caucasus. It became bless ground to create music theater in Azerbaijan. Uzeir Hajibeyov, basing on this performance (seen in his childhood in 1908), created the first Azerbaijani mugham opera “Leyli and Mejnun” (poem of great Azerbaijani poet Fizuli – 1908). Opera “Leyli and Mejnun” was the first opera in the East.

Music life rapidly developed in Baku in early 20th century. This city became the first one among Azerbaijani cultural centers. Outstanding cultural figures, including some Garabagh musicians started coming here. The continued their activity in Baku. However they always were connected spiritually with Garabagh and Shusha, their native land. They continued transmitting their knowledge to young musicians.

It is noteworthy that in the creation of Garabagh musicians the traditions of mugham school are still preserved and transferred from generation to generation.

State music schools, special and higher music institutions have been opened in Baku in the middle of the 20th century. This time mugham singers increased their teaching activity. They continued upbringing of professional musicians firstly in Eastern Conservatoire, then at Baku Musical College, and later in Baku Music Academy. At the moment they teach classic mugham art in the National Conservatoire and University of Culture and Arts.

Speaking about development of mugham art, we should note gramophone records of folk musicians. These records, preserving voices of great masters are the national property of Azerbaijani people. They played significant role in propaganda of Azerbaijani music and its recognition in the world.

Within 1906 – 1905, big sound-recording companies of different countries (such as “Gramophone”, “Pate”, “Sport-record”, “Extraphone”, and Nogin factory) invited famous Azerbaijani singers and recorded them. Jabbar Garyagdi was the first of them. Then they recorded voices of Kechachi oglu Mahammad, Meshadi Mammad Farzaliyev, Islam Abdullayev and others. Gurban Pirimov (tar) and Sasha Oganezashvili (kemancha) accompanied them.

Records of mughams and folk music opened ways for scientific researches. Activity of Scientific Research Cabinet in the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire, headed by Bulbul during 1932-43 is remarkable. Here they recorded mughams, tesniffs, folk songs and dances, ashig creative works and others, performed by famous singers and players. Then they interpreted recorded material, and issued it as collections, which had a scientific importance. Because those material became a subject of research of musicians. Many folk singers cooperated with this Cabinet. They invited many masters for recording. For instance, we could note Jabbar Garyagdi. They recorded over 200 songs and tesniffs in his performance, and part of them was recorded in notes by Said Rustamov .

Thus mugham that is expression of folk ideology, folk attitude, was perfected in the creative works of professional performers, improving in performance schools. So it came across nowadays. Mugham as a genre of Azerbaijani professional music of oral tradition among Garabagh people is the ground of national music culture. It lives, develops, walks around the world greatest stages, and is carefully transmitted to growing generation.

Folk singers

Haji Husi (1839-1898)


Haji Husi (Kazimli Haji Husi Karbalay Lutfali oglu) was born in the town of Shusha. One of the most prominent representatives of vocalism of Shusha, student of  Kharrat Qulu. In 1880 Iran’s Shah Nasreddin has invited H.Hus at his son’s wedding in Tabriz. The first award given by the shah at the end of wedding to singers was awarded namely to H. Husi.

  1. Husi besides being a good singer, also was an excellent musician and teacher in the East and Azerbaijani mughams. He improved in a number mughams, and created its new variants.

Abdulbagi Zulalov (Bulbulcan) (1841-1927)


Abdulbagi Zulalov (Kerbalayi Ali oglu) was born in the town of Shusha. Among people he was more known with  “Bulbulcan” pseudonym. In Azerbaijan he is one of the prominent representatives of the school of khanande. The first musical education he got in the school of Kharrat Gulu in Shusha, and made khanande signings in Karabakh, Ganja, Sheki, and other places.

Bulbuljan returned to Shusha in 1905, and taught here in the “short-term courses in Eastern music” (“The Eastern Conservatory”), and in 1923 at the Azerbaijan State Turkish Music School in Baku the mugams.

Jabbar Garyagdioglu (Ismail oglu) (1861-1944)


Jabbar Garyagdioglu worked on the 500 songs that he learn from the people during 60 years of his life and collected. Folk singer gained fame in the best singer in Transcaucasia. He is considered the founder of modern performance art of mughams of Azerbaijan.

  1. Garyagdioglu was born in Shusha in “Seidli” quarter. He played an important role in its establishment of the Azerbaijan State Opera. Our Opera stage’s first actor was J. Garyagdioglu. He is the first organizers of Azerbaijan Conservatory, where he managed the class of mugham. In 1906-1912 he was recorded in “Gramophone”, “Sportrekord”, “Ekstrafon” joint stock companies in Kiev, Moscow and Warsaw in gramophone discs. J. Garyagdioglu gave concert in Warsaw in 1906. He was compared with well-known Italian singer E. Caruzo.

Kechacioglu Mohammed (1864-1940)


Kechacioglu Mohammed (Mohammed Mashadi Khalil oglu) was born in the town of Shusha. His repertoire is rich with the classical mugams, tasnifs and folk songs. Singer sung skillfully all mugham and zarbi-mughams. A number of mughams, tasnifs and folk songs performed by him were recorded in 1912 at “Sport-Record” (Warsaw), and in 1914 at “Ekstrafon” (Kiev) gramophone companies. His “Leyli”  tasnif is particularly popular. Singing in duet with Jabbar Garyagdioglu Fuzuli’s “Leili and Majnun” became very popular.

Majid Behbudaly oglu Behbudov (1873-1945)


Majid Behbudov was born in the town of Shusha. Being well-known representative of the school of mugham of Karabakh the singer first acted in Karabakh and Ganja then for many years, living in Tbilisi, he gave concerts there.

“Gramophone” firm invited him in Riga in 1910 to record his voice in disc. In Riga, under the accompaniment of Meshedi Jamil Amirov recorded a number of mugham, tasnifs and folk songs. He was known as a skilful performer of “Mirza Hussein Segahı”, “Shushtar”, “Chargah” mughams.

Mashadi Mammad Farzaliyev (1872-1962)


Masadi Mammad Farzaliyev was born in Shusha and got the musical education here at the school of Kharrat Gulu. In the history of the art of singing the singer was known as skilful performer of “Shushtar” mugham. He performed an ancient Azerbaijani songs and tasnifs with great skill. In 1926 accompanied by mugham trio he gave concerts in a number of Russian cities, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium, England, Austria, Romania, Turkey and Iran. Moved to Turkey in 1929, and lived here until the end of his life. Like Azerbaijani singer M.M.Farzaliyev made Azerbaijani art well known in abroad.

Islam Abdul oglu Abdullayev (1876-1964)


Outstanding representative of Azerbaijani-Karabakh mugham school, a singer Islam Abdullayev was born in Shusha. Mughams musician Mir Mohsen Navvab, singer Haji Husu was his teacher. He began to perform under the accompaniment of tar performer Mirza Asad Sadiq. During 1910-1915 in the “Sport-Record” and “Ekstrafon” recording companies I.Abdullayev’s “Segah”, “Bayati-Gajar”, “Shahnaz”, “Shushtar” mughams and a number of tasnif were recorded in gramophone discs.

Abdullayev was recognized as a unique performer of “Segah” mugham in the history of Azerbaijani music.

Seyed Shushinski (1889-1965)


Seid Shushinski from Shusha was born in the village of Horadiz of Fizuli region. Jabbar Garyagdioglu called him as “The pearl of Eastern music”.

Shushinski made financial supports to publication of famous few numbers of “Molla Nasreddin” magazine. In general, S. Shushinski was a great philanthropist, and helped the actors in the theater.

He was the innovator and combined many mughams in new variants and sung.

Musa Farhad oglu Shushinski (1893-1971)


He was born in Shusha. He was one of the artists who continue the tradition of great classical singers of Azerbaijan.

M.Shushinski was invited to Baku in 1932 by Uzeyir Hajibeyli. At that time, under the leadership of the famous composer in the Rote-Fane (now named after Nizami) park “Concerts of the East” had been organized. In July of that year M.Shusinski made a speech in front of the audience of Baku.

Bulbul (Murtuza Mashadi Rza oglu Mammadov) (1897-1961)


Murtuza Mammadov, for his extraordinarily beautiful voice the Bulbul name was given. She was born near Shusha, the place called Khanbaghı.

Bulbul was Azerbaijan opera singer (lyric-dramatic tenor), a skilful tasnif performer, music, folklore researcher, and a founder of Azerbaijan professional vocal school.

He graduated from the Baku Conservatory in 1927 and continued education at the state line for 4 years in Milan (Italy). In 1931, after graduated from the Milan Conservatory (Delliponti and R. Qrani class) Bulbul returning to teach at Azerbaijan State Conservatory.

Bulbul’s “Koroglu” part in the same name opera was a peak of his mastery of the art. In addition, he was a skilful performer works of foreign and Azerbaijani composers.

Zulfi Ali oglu Adigozalov (1898-1963)


Zulfi Adigozalov was born in Qaradolaq village of Shusha. In 1927 Jabbar Garyagdioglu  invited him to Baku. He established own school of singing of mugham dastgah in the bass and middle tessitura.

Performed and recorded by singer, and recorded in gramophone discs “Rast”, “Mahur hindi”, “Segah-Zabul”, “Bayati-Shiraz”, “Humayun” and a number of tasnifs (“Nabi”, “I am going to Zangilan” “Give me a kiss”, “Keklik” and others) are rare pearls of Azerbaijani music. He combined separate relevant sections of mugham dastgah and classified it as micro cycles independently.

Khan Shushinski (Isfandiyar Aslan oglu Javanshir) (1901-1979)


The coryphaeus of art of Azerbaijan Mugham Khan Shushinski was born in the town of Shusha. At age of 12-13 years his masterly performance at one of Shusha majlis impressed all the guests, so his teacher Islam Abdullayev gives him a name of “Khan”.

Under the accompaniment of symphonic orchestra symphonic mughams’ solo part for the first time was sung by Khan. The first duet in the history of music is connected with the name of the great artist. The first duet in the history of Azerbaijani music was performed by Khan Shushinski and Mrs. Shevket  Alekperova.

Rashid Majid oglu Behbudov (1915-1989)


Although originally he was from Shusha, but Rashid Behbudov was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. At young age he acted as in one of pop groups of Tbilisi. Then he began the soloist work in Armenian State Jazz Orchestra.

He was the soloist of Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society, the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after M.F.Akhundov organizer and leader of Azerbaijan State Concert Ensemble. In 1966, R. Behbudov had established Azerbaijan State Song Theater by combining pop music and the art of jazz, ballet, pantomime and by the end of his life he was a soloist and artistic director of this theater. Along with all the Soviet republics, he acted with repertoire in Argentina, Bulgaria, Belgium, Chile, China, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, etc. countries. R. Behbudov’s role in popularization of Azerbaijani folk songs and vocal works of Azerbaijani composers in foreign countries was crucial.

Abulfat Asad oglu Aliyev (1926-1990)


Abulfat Aliyev was born in Shusha. In 1964 he got the honorary title of People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In 1945 he became a soloist of the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society and the Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre (1956-1962).

Majnun (“Leili and Majnun”), Karam (“Asli and Kerem”), Garib (“Ashiq Garib”), and Shah Ismail (“Shah Ismail”) were his major and memorable roles.

Yaqub Mohammed oglu Mamedov (1930-2003)


Yaqub Mammadov was born in Agjabedi region. He got lessons from the well-known singer Seid Shushinski on mugham dastgahs, learn the secrets of the art of singing. Besides he was an expert in all mugham dastgah he knew poetry of Azerbaijan deeply. For many years Y. Mammadov was a soloist of Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society, has performed in concerts. His mugam-dastgahs recorded at gramophone discs were popular not only in Azerbaijan, but in all the Near and Middle East.


Mursud Salim oglu Mamedov (1932-1996)


He was born in the village of Muradbəyli of Aghdam region. “Bayati-Shiraz”, “Segah”, “Zabul-Segah”, “Rast”, “Qatar”, “Karabakh Shikeste” mughams and a number of tasnifs and other songs performed by well-known representative of Karabakh art of music occupied special place in the development of  mugham schools.

He tried himself in the scene of opera, and has played roles in a number of mugham operas.

Islam Tapdiq oglu Rzayev (1934-2006)


Islam Rzayev was born in the village of Sardarli of Fizuli region. He is a talented representative of the Karabakh School of singing. His work was comprehensive and multifaceted.

İ. Rzayev was in 74 countries at the world tour. In 1988 I. Rzayev, along with other music figures established the “Musical Theater” and worked as art director of this theatre, was Professor of the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, the University of Culture and Arts.

Gadir Cherkez oglu Rustamov (1935)


Gadir Rustamov was born in the Agdam. Singer is one of the well-known representatives of Karabakh singing school. In his performance a number of dastgah and mughams like “Rast”, “Chargah” was recorded and stored in the fund of radio. Having high tessitura voice G. Rustamov can demonstrate all the qualities of sound. His “Sona bulbullar” is a very popular song in particular.

Arif Imran oglu Babayev (1938)


Arif Babayev, People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is a prominent follower of the Karabakh school of mugham in the second half of the XX century.. Born in Aghdam region, his dastgah were included to the golden fund of the national music of Azerbaijan, have enriched the treasury of music.

Folk songs like “Shur”, “Segah” mugham dastgahı, “Arazbarı”, “Karabakh Shikeste” percussion mughams made the basis of repertoire of A. Babayev. A.Babayev in 1990 was elected as the first professor of mugham. At present, he is the head of the mugham chair of National Conservatory of Music.

Shahmali Kurdoglu (1930-1992)

Shahmali Kurdoglu (Hajiyev Shahmali Mirsaqulu oglu) was born in the village of Qiyaslı of Aghdam region. Besides referred to as a singer with unique services in the history of Azerbaijani mugham, he is also commemorated as martyr singer. S.Kurdoglu is representative of the Karabakh social environment and as well as S.Shushinski school.

Suleiman Jumshud oglu Abdullayev(1939)


He was born in Qochahmadli village of Fizuli region. Singer is one of the prominent representatives of the Karabakh Mugham School in modern time. In 1969, in Istanbul, Turkey he was the winner of the World Festival. He had performed concerts in several countries of the world.

At present, S. Abdullaev takes an active part in the cultural life of the country, gives concerts in front of soldiers at front regions.

Teymur Ibrahim oglu Mirzayev (1936)


Teymur Mirzayev was born in the Agdam. Then, in 1961, he became founder, artistic director and a soloist a “Qaya” State ensemble. The winner of All-Union and International competitions “Gaya” ensemble was one of the well-known collectives in the USSR and in many foreign countries. This collective won the 1st place at the World Estrada contest held in Moscow in 1964.

Maintaining the Estrada traditions deservedly Teymur Mirzayev as a leader of the collective at the same time developed with a unique style of playing Azerbaijan’s national performing arts. With staff he gave concerts in in various countries – Germany, Austria, America, Turkey, India, Africa, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Canada, Georgia, Ukraine, and could make it loved by representatives of different nations.

Vahid Ali oglu Abdullayev (1948-2001)

Being grown with classical music traditions of the Karabagh School of mugham Vahid Abdullayev    was born in Zangisalı-Mahrızlı village of Agdam region. He studied at a professional music school named after Asaf Zeynalli and later began to teach in the same school. His performance of “Bayati-Shiraz”, “Zabul-Segah” mugham dastgah, “Karabakh Shikeste” won the sympathy of mugham lovers and remained in particular, in their memory.

Abdullayev was a soloist of Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society, Azerbaijan concert association. He sounded Azerbaijani mughams in concert halls of Turkey, France, Israel and Iran.

Sakhavat Amirkhan oglu Mamedov (1953-1991))


He was born in the village of Abdal-Gulabli of Aghdam region. Being the representative of Karabakh the majority of songs sung by Sakhavat are in “Segah” style. In September 30, 1991 the singer died at automobile accident. He was buried in Abdal Gulabli cemetery. As a result of the occupation by Armenians the tombstone of Sakhavat with his picture, date of birth and death left at the yard of his home in village.

Sabir Ali oglu Abdullayev (1957)


Sabir Abdullayev, representative of the school of mugham of Karabakh, was born in the village of Zangisalı-Mahrızlı of Aghdam region. He performed with special skill “Zabul-Segah” , “Mirza Hussein segah” . This mugams’ records are included in the gold fund of the Azerbaijan State Radio and Television. S. Abdullayev performs mughams being loyal to classical music traditions of mugham school of Karabakh.

Abdullayev today teaches both at the music school and at the Baku Music College under the Music Conservatory to mughams followers.

Mansum Israfil oglu Ibrahimov (1960)


Mansum Ibrahimov known with his unique singing style in modern period is one of the well-known followers of the school of mugham of Karabagh, and enriched treasure of Azerbaijani music. He appealed to their repertoire is all mugham dasgahs. Singer promoted our mugham in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, etc.countries.

Fehruz Amirkhan oglu Mamedov (1972)


Fehruz (Firuz) Mamedov  was born in Aghdam. Singer is a worthy follower of the school of the modern Karabakh mugham in the world. F. Mamedov is a graduate of Agdam Mugam School named after Khan Shushinski. Singer was in tours in Iran, Turkey and other countries.

Nazakat Khosrov kizi Teymurova (1972)


Teymurova courtesy was born in Aghdam. She got lessons from people’s artist, professor Arif Babayev. N. Teymurova since the same year is a soloist of the Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. Besides acting as a soloist of opera, she is professional performer of folk songs and songs of composers. N. Teymurova represented the art of mugham of Azerbaijan deservedly in Germany, USA, Korea, Japan, Hungary, France, Turkey, Iran, and Switzerland with national music concert programs.

Jabir Ali oglu Abdullayev(1966)


Jabir Abdullayev was born in the Agdam. He graduated in 2001 from the faculty of mugham of the Baku Academy of Music. J. Abdullayev together with other artists performed successfully at the anniversary of the republic and a number of state events, as well as in Austria in 2004, at the Cultural Days of Azerbaijan. At present he is soloist of the “Mugham” Theatre.

Tayyar Allahverdi oglu Bayramov (1976)


Young singer Tayyar Bayramov was born in Aghdam region. Since the childhood he showed interest in mugham. While study at Music College named after A. Zeynalli he became involved in professional performance. When studying at Music College he joined one of the contests and won the 3rd place.

Bayramov won the 1st place at Television Music Contest held in 2005. In 2009, at the International Music Competition he was awarded to the prize “Grand Prix”.


Jamil Amirov (1875-1928)

Jamil Amirov (Mashadi Jamil Amirov) was born in Shusha. In 1907 he moved to Ganja and J. Amirov became  well-known  by accompanying Mashadi M. Farzaliyev,  Malybeyli Hamid, Bulbul,  Seyed  Shushinski.

J.Amirov won the respect of the large mass of listeners had recorded his performance in Riga in 1910 in “Gramophone” company. He performed in tar, kamancha and accordion.

Being a master performer, J.Amirov was also known as a talented composer and teacher.

J.Amirov in 1915 staged opera “Seyfal mulk” in Ganja. After a year of this work successfully was staged at Tbilisi National Opera Theatre named after Z. Paliasvili.

Ashraf Jalal oglu Abbasov (1920-1992)

Ashraf Abbasov was born in Shusha. He graduated from the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire in 1948, and in 1952 from postgraduate of Moscow State Conservatory.

During 1953-57 Professor Ashraf Abbasov was a rector of the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. In 1965 he wrote the first Azerbaijani children’s ballet “Garaja girl”.

A.Abbasov is an author of concert for piano and orchestra, “Consertino” for symphonic orchestra,   symphonic poems “Shusha”, “Next day”, “Dramatic” “You are not my beloved” “At mountains” operettas, many instrumental works, chorus, the song, romances.

Chingiz Zulfugar oglu Hajibeyov (1913-1971)

Chingiz Hajibeyov was born in Shusha. Ch. Hajibeyov worked as a violinist in Azerbaijan State Opera and Ballet Theatre Orchestra named after M.F.Akhundov since 1931 under the leadership of Uzeyir Hajibeyov and Muslim Magomayev.

The main activities of J. Hajibeyov’s creativity was connected with Azerbaijan Musical Comedy Theatre, the Symphony Orchestra of State Committee for Radio and Television broadcasts, the State Symphonic Orchestra named after U. Hajibeyov. Worked as chief conductor in 1938-1953.

Niyazi (Niyazi Zulfugar oglu Hajibeyov-Tagizade) (1912-1984)

Niyazi was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. He is a son of Shusha Azerbaijan composer Zulfugar Hajibeyov. A great role in the formation of Niyazi as a musician belongs to his uncle, U.Hajibeyov. He got the music education in Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and studied at post-graduate course in the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire.

He began an activity of composer and conductor since 1930. He has been closely involved in the formation of the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra, since 1938 (with some intervals) till the end of his life he worked as an art director and chief conductor of the orchestra.

Niyazi is an author of a number of symphonic compositions (“Rast” symphonic mugham), opera (“Khosrov and Shirin”), ballet (“Chitra”) and vocal works. The work performed under the guidance of author was sounded in many foreign countries, and was recorded in gramophone discs by Czech (“Supraphon”), and the U.S. (“Rikordi”) music companies.

Fikrat Mashadi Jamil oglu Amirov (1922-1984)

F.Amirov, who was born in Ganja, by is Shusha origin. Then, in 1948, he graduated from the Baku Conservatory (course sof Uzeyr Hajibeyli and Boris Zeidman). F.Amirov is one of the leading figures of the music of Azerbaijan of the XX century, F. Amirov. F. Amirov played an important role in bringing world fame to Azerbaijani music. He has discovered new opportunities of tune-intonation of the structure and composition of Azerbaijani music with an oral tradition. F. Amirov is an author of “Sevil” opera, “Urakchalanlar”, “Gozun aydin” musical comedies, “Nasimi epos”, “Arabian Nights”, “Nizami” ballets.

He was one of the founders of the music Azerbaijani symphonic music. F. Amirov’s “Nizami” symphony, “Shur”, “Kurd-ovsharı”, “Gulistan Bayati-Shiraz” symphonic mugam made an important stage in the his creation. In fact, for the first time, like U. Hajibeyov applied mughams to mugham operas, F. Amirov developed them on the basis of the symphonic music and could arrange organic relationship of two different style of music, Western and Eastern

Sultan Ismail oglu Hajibeyov (1919-1974)

Soltan Hajibeyov was born in 1919 in the city of Shusha. He entered the Composer faculty of the Azerbaijan State Conservatory in 1939, and courses of professor B.I.Zeidman. Even before the admission in Conservatoire he composed the “Golden Rose” musical comedy. In 1945, S. Hajibeyov “Caravan” composed symphonic suite.

Hajibeyov’s “Gulshan” ballet was staged at the Big Theatre of Tashkent (Uzbekistan) named after A.Navoi in 1953. The author has compiled suite from the music on ballet. “Gulshan” suite was released in large numbers by “Bruno” (United States) company and spread.


Uzeyir bey Hajibeyov (1885-1948)

Uzeyir Hajibeyli was born in Agjabedi region of Shusha province. He was Azerbaijani composer, musician, scientist, publicist, playwright, teacher and public figure. U. Hajibeyov is the founder of modern Azerbaijani professional music and national opera. Founder of the first opera in the East.

Hajibeyov laid the foundation for the art of opera with “Leili and Majnun” opera in Baku on January 12, 1908, in the theater of H.Z.Tagiyev not only in Azerbaijan but also in the Muslim East.

During 1909-1915 U. Hajibeyov in one after another had composed mugham operas like  “Sheikh Sanan” (1909), “Rustam and Sohrab” (1910), “Shah Abbas and Khurshid Banu” (1912), “Asli and Kerem” (1912), “Harun and Leyla” (1915). He is the founder of the musical comedy genre in Azerbaijan.

Hajibeyov had arranged in 1921 the first music school for students in Baku, Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan State Turkish Music School (later technical).

Hajibeyov had trained the talented composers, musicians’ generation. G. Garayev, F. Amirov, Niyazi, S. Hajibeyov and others were his students.

Zulfugar Abdulhuseyn oglu Hajibeyov (1884-1950)

Zulfugar Hajibeyov was born in Shusha. He is one of the founders of the Azerbaijan Theater of Musical Comedy. Z. Hajibeyov is an author of “Young at the age of fifty” (1909), “Eleven-year-old wife” (1911), “Single while married” (1911) musical comedies, “Ashiq Garib” (1915) opera..  Z. Hajibeyov together with Niyazi is a composer of the first sound film of Azerbaijan “Almas”.

Suleyman Eyyub oglu Alasgarov (1924-1999)

S.Alasgarov was born in Shusha. He graduated from the Azerbaijan State Conservatory in 1948.

S.Alasgarov’s “Stars”, “Ourselves know”, “Not like that but this”, “Poor son of a millionaire”, “Where are you bachelorhood”, “Sevindik looking for girl”, “Hamishakhanım” operettas still today are performed at Musical Comedy Theatre of Azerbaijan. In addition, his “Bahadur and Sona”, “Faded Flowers” operas, several cantatas, symphony, “Bayati-Shiraz” symphonic mugham, symphonic poem, and suites are pearls of Azerbaijani music

Garabagh dances


Azerbaijani folk dances have an ancient history. As a type of folk dances were created by the people and passed from generation to generation for centuries. Dances are characteristic for instrumental folk dance music of Azerbaijan with the richness of tone, symmetry of structure, diversity of range, the gradual development, repeat, the method of variation and sequence.

Each region of Azerbaijan has its own dances that by passing of time these dances were entered in the golden fund of the art of Azerbaijan.

Two of these famous dances were formed in Garabagh region.  We bring these dances bring to your attention.


“Uzundere” is very attractive, elegant and lyrical and expressive dance. It is considered to be one of the favorite dances not only in Azerbaijan but also in the Caucasus. In Garabagh, between Agdam and Goytapa village there is a valley called “Uzundere”. This dance is dedicated to this valley.

ASTA Garabaghi

“Asta Garabaghi” is a dance created in Garabagh. Movement sequence in the dance is stable, and performed at quiet part in the site and then with a little bit of movement. The temp of the dance is constant.

Karabakh’s music assemblies


The people of Azerbaijan have an ancient and rich musical heritage. Initial information about our

ancient music is reflected in the rock paintings of Gobustan (XVII-III BC) and Gemigaya (III-I millennium BC). In addition, in “Kitabi Dede Gorgud” and “Koroglu” legends, as well as in works of Nizami, Fuzuli, Abulqadir Maragai and Mir Mohsin Navvab the information about rich music art is provided.

Since the late XIX century, a number of cities of Azerbaijan music assemblies, societies, associations have been organized and it was a great impetus to the development of music. In the 80s of the XIX century “Musicians Assembly “was organized by M.M. Navvab and Haji Hosni, where the art of mugham was discussed. Mashadi Jamil Amirov, I.Abdullayev, S.Shushinskiy, Sadigjan and other famous representatives of the mugham art were participants of the meeting.

As it was noted, one of the factors played an important role in the development of the art of singing in the second half of the XIX century was a literary music assemblies. After the death of famous musician Kharrat Gulu oen named Blind (Kor) Khalifa had opened a music school in Shusha. He taught students to sing mugham play on the tar and kamancha. School of the Blind Khalifa had trained many musicians. Although after the death of Blind Khalifa the school was closed but in that period, a number of circles and meetings of musicians, interesting conversation on the art of music were arranged. In Shusha “Navvab’s assembly”, in Shamakhy” Circle of Mahmud aga” in Baku “Mashadi Malik Mansurov’s saloon” turned into a real music school. Well-known musicians and singers mastering in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of Eastern music took care on proper singing of singers and their skill of art. At music assemblies the signing of “Shur”, “Rast”, “Mahur”, “Chahargah”, “Bayati-Isfahan” mughams lasted  two, sometimes three hours.

Interesting is that singers learning to sing all mughams at assemblies correctly and complete destgah tried to learn any mugam more perfect, to become qualified in it. Haji Husi sung well “Zamin-khara” and “Shushtar”, Mashadi Isi “Mahur”,  Bulbuljan “Hasari mukhalif”, Mirza Mahammadhasan “Mansuriyya”,  Qasim Abdullayev “Zabul” , Malibayli Hamid “Rast” , Islam Abdullaev “Yetim segah”,  Alesger from Sheki “Shur”, Seyed Mirbabayev “Simayi-Shams”, Jabbar Qaryaghdi “Heyrat”,  Kechachi oglu Mohammed “Bayati-Qajar” compared to other  mughams.

Music assemblies had purified the national spirit of folk music, at the same time the music language from foreign trends, resisted against the danger of assimilation by protecting the mugam’s authenticity. These assemblies differed from weddings, parties. Here, poetry, music and art, aesthetic problems were discussed in detail. In these music assemblies “Shusha assembly” gained a special fame. Because there were more musicians, dancers in Shusha than in other places. It Is not coincidence that folk poet S.Vurgun wrote: “Shusha was not named in vain as the cradle of music and poetry, almost all the popular sound and music performers of Azerbaijan were born in Shusha …”

One of the reasons that  Shusha was a well-know music center, of course, was its pure air, cool springs, beautiful forests, unique sightseeing, in a word, charming nature. At the end of the XIX century life, being known as a health centre, the life in Shusha was active at the end of XIX century: Every year in summer, poets, playwrights, composers, artists and musicians from the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia, including parts of Russia and Western Europe, where Azerbaijani students studied in universities, gathered here to show the theatre performances and participate in the music assemblies. Each singer performed  in Shusha  with own group of singers in  “Summer club”, at fascinating sites, at beautiful, cool springs, before   the audience  and narrated the quaint stories on Eastern music. From every house, every yard, every tree shadow the sounds of tar, bow, ney, accordion is sounded.

Shusha was famous as Caucasus Conservatoire, as well as a vocal school in the whole Near and Middle East. Likewise “Italian vocal school” occupies the position in European musical history, “Shusha vocal school” occupies the same position in the history of Eastern music. It is no coincidence that in the past Shusha was called as “Italy of the Caucasus”.

As noted by a prominent writer A.B.Haqverdiyev, at the second half of the XIX century and the early of the XX, wherever you go in the Caucasus, you see that musician – singer are from Karabakh. In wedding parties in Baku, Shamakhy, Ashgabat, Tehran, Istanbul and even in the Istanbul the singer group was invited namely from Shusha. The beautiful voices of singers of Karabagh always overshadowed with their skilful arts  singers from Iran, Turkey. The singers of Karabakh  had a special respect in musical assemblies of Shamakhy and Baku.

These singers provided a direction to all other artists working in the field of music.  From various places singers and tar players visited Shush and sang and danced for Karabakh musicians and tried to get instructions and appreciation from them. They were waited with anxiety for how the sultans of mugham like Haji Husu, Sadıqjan, Mirza Mukhtar would estimate their performance…

Thus, the music assembly of Shusha played an exceptional role in the training of national music officials, and stimulated the development of the Azerbaijani music. In one of his letters the famous Russian poet Sergey Yesenin pointed out a beautiful voice of Shusha people: “If one cannot sing, it means he is not from Shusha.”

Thus, city of Shusha became the center of the music at the end of the XIX century. Here, there were up to 70 singers. Kharrat Gulu Mohammed oglu(1823-1883), a famous musician was a founder of the music school in Shusha.

The head of Shusha music assembly Mir Mohsin Navvab was one of the most skillful musicians of XIX century. Navvab has worked for had for population’s education, cultural development. He had a special care that Shusha became the centre of the music.  Navvab had organized “Singers’ Assembly” with the close participation of the singer Haji Husu.  His music assembly played a vital role in the cultural life of the city after music assembly of Kharrat Gulu and Khurshudbanu Natavan’s Assembly “Majlis-i -Uns” (friendship assembly). After Music Assembly of Navvab, the music school of Mullah Ibrahim was established in Shusha. A lot of musicians have been taught in this school. Our famous poet Bulbul had got his first education at this school.